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Maine law that bans nonmedical exemption vaccine exemptions for school children to take effect

Under the new law taking effect next month, only medical exemptions will be allowed for...
Under the new law taking effect next month, only medical exemptions will be allowed for childhood vaccines required to enter school.(Gray tv)
Published: Aug. 24, 2021 at 6:01 AM EDT
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PORTLAND, Maine (WMTW) - A state law that bans nonmedical exemptions for vaccines required for children to attend school will take effect on Sept. 1.

The law approved by lawmakers in 2019 and upheld by voters in 2020 aims to stop preventable illnesses, such as chicken pox, polio, measles and mumps from spreading in schools.

“People are coming in to get their vaccines and get them ready for school.” Maine Health pediatrician Dr. Lynne Tetreault said.

Tetreault said it is important to stop preventable disease from spreading in communities.

“The longer vaccines are around and the less you see the severe side of those diseases, I think people forget how important vaccines are and how well they work,” Tetreault said.

Tetreault said while she was training to be a doctor, a 2-year-old girl with chicken pox developed a serious bacterial infection.

“She was covered head to toe, and we almost lost her, and that’s when I remember that’s why we want kids to get vaccinated, so we don’t get to that point,” Tetreault said.

Under the new law taking effect next month, only medical exemptions will be allowed for childhood vaccines required to enter school.

Christian Civic League Executive Director Carroll Conley said the law puts parents who do not have the means to homeschool their children in a tough situation.

“I want to make it clear that our argument is not against the benefits of the vaccination, but at the same time, we have to recognize that there is risk,” Conley said. “A lot of parents just said my children are mine. They’re not the state’s. We want to raise them.”

A Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention report said for the 2020-2021 school year, fewer parents of Maine kindergarteners opted for the religious or philosophical vaccine exemptions that end this school year.

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